Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fish Fry with Flare

Fish, in general, never used to excite me.

In fact, it usually causes panic, especially when I used to buy it at the grocery store. I never knew if the fish--tilapia, sole, halibut, etc.--had come in contact with shelled seafood, my arch-nemesis that has the power to kill me.

So for many years I just avoided the whole fish situation by not eating it at all, unless it was a McFish sandwich during lent.

Then I married a fisherman. Then I stopped eating fast food. Then I became a returning Catholic.

Now I'm eating fish.

Not just any fish, though. I'm eating fish that FD or his dad or his brother caught--mostly crappies, perch or walleye--at Mosquito Creek Reservoir or in Lake Erie near the Canadian border.

Most times I've left it to FD to prepare and cook the fish. That is until Lent started. As one of my Lenten meditations, I've taken up cooking fish.

And, of course, the best recipe I found fries it. Proclaiming to be a huge fan of fried food doesn't do hot oil and batter justice. Literally, I would eat anything fried--pickles, pizza, twinkles, crickets, roaches. That's how much I love fried food. I try not to eat it often, though. As we all know, it's not the healthiest preparation.

FD makes the most healthy of fish recipes: sauteing fillets in curry powder, baking them in parchment paper, etc. And I find this little piece of buttermilk-battered heaven.

Surely God is proud of my Lenten promise to cook fish.

Or more likely the fool who invented Epicurious is definitely going straight to heaven.

FD and I didn't have the time or ingredients for the pickled onions and peppers or the salsa verde--mostly because I refused to buy the ingredients at the grocery when I know I could make it at the end of the summer with all local ingredients, which would taste WAY better--but we made the Baja Cream, I marinated those little fillets in the buttermilk batter and we fried up in an inch of oil for 4 minutes, kept them warm in the oven, and found ourselves absolutely in love with this Mexican fish fry. (Justin Timberlake and Timberland, how come you couldn't sing about this recipe???)

We made a few adjustments, though. Use flour instead of corn tortillas; they hold up better and taste better. (Yes, we used both to make sure.) Add Cayenne Pepper to the flour for a kick; it's awesome.

Seriously, I force myself to eat fish. With this recipe I devoured, easily and happily, four tacos in one seating plus a few sneak bites of leftover fish before FD did the dishes.

It was sick. It was sickly awesome.

(Note: I use the word sick as a good thing. I didn't get sick from this recipe. In fact, it made my tummy very happy.)



Pickled Red Onion and Jalapeños
  • 1 red onion (about 12 ounces), halved lengthwise, cut thinly crosswise
  • 5 whole small jalapeños
  • 2 cups seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

Baja cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lime peel
  • Pinch of salt

Tomatillo Salsa Verde
  • 12 ounces tomatillos,* husked, stemmed, divided
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts separated
  • 1 jalapeño chile
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lime juice

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce--Sriracha!!!
  • 3 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 pounds skinless halibut, sea bass, or striped bass fillets, cut into 1/2x1/2-inch strips (or in our case, walleye, perch, crappies!)
  • 16 flour tortillas
  • 1t Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Fresh salsa
  • Guacamole

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